Butterfly Unit: Accessing Complex Text in the Primary Grades

This kindergarten class of English language learners (ELLs) demonstrates Lily Wong Fillmore's guidance in how teachers can support students in acquiring and using academic language and working successfully with complex text. These ELL kindergartners have engaged in a unit studying butterflies where academic vocabulary, language structure, and keys to unlocking the meaning of complex text have been deeply embedded into their daily learning. This video is on sharing a reading/writing lesson which celebrates text complexity. Key points include: (1) Each day select text to amplify as part of instructional conversations and (2) Choose text that has complex structure but also that holds the essence of your lesson/activity, or some really pivotal information.

Content Comments 

Historically, approaches to ESL instruction relied on shorter, simplified sentences. Words that are part of phrases and learned in context are more meaningful to students than isolated words. By looking at juicy language found in central ideas in units, ELLs can be given access and a better chance to learn how to participate independently in classroom instruction. They don’t need to sit by the side and watch.